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Planning on taking a trip in Canada?

Add insurance to your checklist.

You may be surprised to know that travel insurance isn’t just a necessity for people who vacation outside the country – it applies within Canada, too.

Plans to visit hot, sunny and sandy destinations may be on many Canadian travellers’ wish lists this season, but due to pandemic concerns, venturing out a little closer to home may have to suffice. Thankfully, there’s a limitless selection of exciting places to visit and things to do within the country’s vast borders. To enjoy them to the utmost, in-country travel insurance should be part of your plan. 

Travel insurance once had a reputation of being relevant only to older people who travelled internationally, but those days are behind us. Today, it’s helpful for anyone of any age who travels into another province or territory, because each is governed by a different health plan. 

A recent travel survey conducted by Manulife found that 50 per cent of Canadians think their government health insurance plan will protect them while travelling anywhere in Canada¹. It’s true that a Canadian requiring medical attention while visiting another province or territory will generally be treated the same way as at home, thanks to inter-provincial agreements. However, what’s covered by the government-sponsored insurance in your home province may differ from the coverage in other plans. You may not be insured in the same way you think.

Medical coverage differs depending on where you are in Canada. Here are some costs that aren’t typically covered – but that travel insurance can protect you from. 

  • Ambulance services (air and ground, including transport and paramedic)
  • Fees charged by private hospitals or facilities
  • Diagnostic or laboratory services outside of a public hospital
  • Prescription drugs and other drugs given outside a hospital
  • Services not covered in the province

Know your situation

If travel plans are on the horizon, the first question you should ask yourself is, “Am I covered?” Many employee group benefit plans include some level of travel insurance – research how extensive your plan’s coverage is. Some stipulate coverage for business travel only. Others may cover only the employee but not dependents. Time limits, eligible and non-eligible procedures and, importantly, coverage for matters related to COVID-19 are certain to vary, depending on the agreement the employer has with its insurance provider. Ensure you understand your situation with respect to insurance and how it might apply to a variety of circumstances if something were to happen to you or your companions while travelling. 

Although your provincial or territorial health plan will cover you in the event you need emergency care, be cautious. There can be gaps in medical coverage that could leave you responsible for paying for treatment up front and for recovering the funds from your provincial or territorial government when you return home. This can create a cash flow challenge at a time when you may have already spent a lot of money for a holiday. 

Many travel insurance providers have modified or extended their policies to include coverage of COVID-19-related emergency medical costs when travelling within Canada. This is a worthwhile consideration as you decide what extent of coverage best suits your needs. 

Bon voyage! 

After you have put aside the money and the time to enjoy that hard-earned vacation, taking the next step to protect yourself from unexpected costs can be a satisfying point to check off your list. Reach out to your advisor for some insight on the short-term and long-term insurance options that can help you enjoy your time away that much more. 


© 2020 Manulife. The persons and situations depicted are fictional and their resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental. This media is for information purposes only and is not intended to provide specific financial, tax, legal, accounting or other advice and should not be relied upon in that regard. Many of the issues discussed will vary by province. Individuals should seek the advice of professionals to ensure that any action taken with respect to this information is appropriate to their specific situation. E & O E. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Please read the fund facts as well as the prospectus before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. Any amount that is allocated to a segregated fund is invested at the risk of the contractholder and may increase or decrease in value. www.manulife.ca/accessibility 

 ¹ Manulife travel survey, July 2020.

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